SSL certificates allow website owners to provide something like a badge of authenticity to their users. In theory a website with a valid certificate should be trustworthy and secure. By default, web browsers will recognize a number of certificate authorities, companies that sell annual certificates and verify them. Depending on the company selling the certificate and the level of encryption, they can run from free to nearly $500.
When a web browser connects to a site without a valid certificate, the user will receive a nasty warning about the site not being trusted. This increases the chances that a user may not stay on the site, and if you are a business, it means that customers may be unwilling to proceed with sales transactions. In some cases, you may even have a self-signed certificate with perfectly secure encryption, but the user’s web browser will stay say it is untrusted.
Purchasing a certificate is only the beginning of the process. You will need to setup your server correctly to use it. Each secure HTTPS site will require a unique IP address and correct certificate authority information that matches the certificate. If anything does not match (such as the domain name – common problem with domain CNAME aliases), web browsers will still spit out errors. Be mindful of all these factors as you choose the right certificate for you.
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